UN Atomic Chief Says Long-Term Agreement Needed On Access To Iran Nuclear Program
Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Wednesday [February 25] urged world powers including the United States to reach a political agreement with Tehran to facilitate long-term IAEA access to Iran’s nuclear activities.
Grossi recently agreed in Tehran a three-month arrangement for access after Tehran suspended its application of a protocol originally agreed in 2003 to allow intrusive IAEA inspections.
“If there is no political agreement, then not only the agency, [but] the international community will be faced with a completely new situation,” Grossi said in an interview with Japan’s NHK World. There was “no other alternative” way of collecting important information on Iran’s nuclear progress, he said, stressing that the next three months offered breathing space to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Grossi was giving his first interview since Iran Tuesday suspended its Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a protocol allowing snap IAEA inspections. This was Tehran’s latest step outside the JCPOA since the US left the agreement in 2018 and imposed stringent sanctions.
During a recent visit to Tehran Grossi reached an agreement allowing a three-month window during which Iran will retain all IAEA camera footage from nuclear sites that could subsequently be made available to the agency. Iran has threatened to destroy the footage at the end of the three months if US sanctions are not lifted.
While President Joe Biden and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have expressed a desire to revive the JCPOA, there has been no agreement on synchronizing moves as Grossi called for in December. Iran has insisted the US should first remove sanctions, as required by the deal, while the Biden administration has stressed its need to consul allies and for Iran to reverse nuclear steps beyond JCPOA limits.
US State Department Spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday warned Iran that American patience was “not unlimited” while pointing out that the Biden administration still wanted a diplomatic solution. The US and the three European JCPOA signatories − Germany, France, and Britain − have proposed an informal meeting of the original JCPOA signatories, including Russia and China, to discuss reviving the deal. Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Tuesday said Iran was ready to accept the US as a “guest” at talks within the JCPOA structure if it was clear Washington was ready to remove sanctions.